Monday, April 23, 2012

Some of the content of this post was written 2 years ago. For various reasons I didn't publish it. So I updated it and am publishing it now. But it's longer than 142 characters.  :)

To know me is to know my dad. I'm Ed's son. So much of who I am, so much of what I do, has been formed by my dad. This post is from a series of reflections on some life lessons my dad taught me. They are based out of the eulogy I did for my dad's memorial service on April 7, 2010.

Life Lesson #4: "There's always a spot up front."

My family camped a lot. We traveled a lot. We spent a lot of time in the car.

And when I was growing up, even well into my adulthood, whenever we would go someplace, a restaurant, a mall, a theme park, a movie theater... wherever... dad would often get there late. And there would be this huge parking lot, maybe hundreds, even thousands of cars, and dad would boldly drive up to the front, right in front of the door or the gate... and he would almost always find a spot. Not like this car in the picture, but an actual open one.

Right up front.

It was uncanny. //

And the first several times he did that, I just thought it was luck. Then I thought it might even be some big conspiracy or set up; like he planned it somehow.

But again, for dad it was a teachable moment.

He would say, “Paul, there is always a space up front. Everybody assumes there isn’t, so most people won’t take the time to look. They just resign themselves to parking in the back. But a lot of the time, if you take the time, you will find a space up front.”

And of course, for dad, this pointed to a deeper reality that I saw lived out in his life... even toward the end when things were really hard for him: Dad always assumed that he was lucky. I mean, anyone who plays cards with him knows he was lucky. But dad assumed that he had as much of a shot at opportunity as anyone.

“Give it a shot, it might as well be you.”

Later, when my dad began using faith language, he called himself "blessed." [He heard a pastor defined "blessed" as being "favored by God" -- and that really registered with my dad for some reason.]

Dad often said, “I’m the luckiest man alive. I have your mom, you kids, a good job...” And then he would say, “There are very few times in life where everything is going well. This is one of those times. It just doesn’t get any better than this.”

I was going to post a couple of times when I didn't take his advice -- when I chose to not risk the spot down front -- and maybe I will at some later post -- but in some ways I carry his worldview.

I've never been a "my best days are behind me" kind of person. I certainly don't look to High School or College as my glory years. Actually, I love my life right now.

But again, recently, I stopped "looking for a space up front." In faith language, I think I walk by faith less today than I did years ago. I see that reflected in my prayer life. I see it reflected in my leadership. 

I've become a calculated risk taker. Maybe that is not a bad thing... but it doesn't feed my soul.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Curious this post is to me. Granted I don't interact with you on a daily/regular basis, but isn't Carpenter one of those risk things of a scale that is not so small? I am sure that there is a lot of considered thought behind your post here and you are struggling with some things. I won't Dr. Phil you, but I think the time you have ahead of you to think and to pray and to prepare, will help to ease your mind and help you to find yourself and strengthen you love for and relationship with Him.